The Deputy President of Kenya, Dr William Samoei Ruto, when opening the Shape Africa 2019 event emphasized the need for innovation and technology in the modern business world.
Dr Ruto was speaking during the opening ceremony of the Shape Africa 2019, where over 100 young people from nearly 40 countries were in attendance at the United Nations (UN) offices in Nairobi.
SHAPE Africa is the annual convening of the World Economic Forum network of Global Shapers in Africa.
He spoke about how the Big Four agenda specifically impacts the youth, as well as how Kenya and Africa must urgently and aptly use technology and education to mobilize the youth dividend.
A recurring theme in his speech was the importance of innovation and education, especially at this pivotal time in Kenya and Africa’s development.
“Technological innovation as the engine of globalization, big data, Internet of Things, Robotics, automation and the ‘GIG” Economy are no longer science fiction, but a present reality. The adverse consequence of this shift is that we are seeing job displacements in multiple sectors due to artificial intelligence.
The banking sector is increasingly automated and new innovations such as Mpesa have created a financial revolution,” said Dr Ruto.
He not only spoke about the necessity to provide youth with relevant education and equip them with skills and competencies to be productively used, but more importantly, how to create real and present opportunities for young people.
Empowering them with the skills is only the first step, but actually giving the youth jobs, resources, and investment is a necessary and inextricably interrelated need. He reinforced that whether these countries have youth bulge, as a disadvantage, or a youth dividend, as an asset, depends on what these countries do with the young people.
He highlighted measures that can be adopted to propel young people to grow and proliferate the market in order to unlock their true potential for innovation, job creation, and revenue generation.
According to Ruto, the youth are not the future leaders but should be the current leaders, and the future is already here.
“To put this into context, the current median age of Africa is 24 years old and 19.1 years in Kenya, making us one of the youngest populations in the world; but also a continent that has all it takes to lead in this revolution. We can no longer consider the youth as future leaders. They are the majority and experts of the 4th Industrial Revolution and must, therefore, be at the forefront of shaping the Africa we want,” added Dr Ruto.
He also urged market players to work more collaboratively and to establish a public and private partnership in order to effectively source, architect, and implement such opportunities. He reassured the youth that the government is flexible and open for ideas, and certainly a partner in innovation and progress.
Ruto also had a discussion with Siddhartha Chatterjee, Resident Coordinator, and Badra Yusuf Ali, Incoming Curator, Global Shapers Community Mogadishu Hub. They discussed the thematic areas of Shape Africa 2019, including the future of work and education, mobility and access, and gender equality.